Wan Chai might be home to some seriously great bars, but the neighbourhood is following the footsteps of Sheung Wan to become another excellent coffee central on Hong Kong island. From Aussie-inspired to Tokyo-style coffee, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay has got ‘em all.
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Best cafés in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay
With branches in Wan Chai, Mong Kok, Sheung Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui, it’s hard to believe that 18 Grams first started out at this small espresso bar in Causeway Bay. Managed by a world-class barista judge, 18 Grams believes in fresh, locally-roasted coffee beans. Their espresso-based coffee has helped create and dominate the Hong Kong coffee scene. Pop along to Canon Street to see where it all began and sip a perfectly ratioed cup of coffee.
Starting out as a simple tea shop in Tokyo in 1968, Brook’s Café is the go-to place for Japanese-inspired drinks and desserts. We’re talking deliciously rich Blue Mountain drip coffee and matcha floats and smoothies. Escape the busy streets of Wan Chai and pop along to this underground café for a delectable sweet treat or two.
There’s no dearth of trendy artisanal coffee shops springing up these days, but when it comes to local brands none are as successful or impressive as The Coffee Academics. Their flagship store is located here in Yiu Wa Street. It’s a spacious venue with a slew of cold brews, handcrafted espresso-based drinks, ice drip coffee, as well as teas, alcoholic drinks and a robust food menu. It’s the perfect place to set up your laptop and get some work done. There’s also a couple of outdoor seats if you’re keen to enjoy some sun.
The Elephant Grounds premises on Star Street is the first of its four branches to offer all-day dining, which includes an impressive lineup of cocktails that feature some of the finest java. You can play it safe with the classic latte or order from their seasonal single origin coffee menu. Try the Espressotini, a mixture of Belvedere vodka, Kirin whisky, Kahlua and espresso, or some of the other more unconventional creations including the beetroot juice latte.
A venture started by three French entrepreneurs, La Station offers an authentic European coffee experience in the heart of Wan Chai. The interior decor is a mashup of a European train station and a Hong Kong MTR station – think curved walls and red tiles – which lends the space an intimate vibe. Enjoy their signature coffee, a secret recipe, and desserts provided by Paul Lafayette, who happens to be the patriarch of two of the three owners.
This Aussie-inspired bohemian coffee joint is a far cry from Wan Chai’s seedier corners, flaunting its rustic vibe, both inside and out. Selling a speciality espresso, which was awarded Australia’s Best Espresso, enjoy your java with a lunch cooked freshly on-site. A helpful set of descriptions aids the amateur coffee-taster discern the best choice, while connoisseurs can simply enjoy a fortified brew in a stylish setting.
This Wan Chai newcomer serves up Australian-style brunch food and some excellent lattés. A venture started by the first-runner up in the American world latte art championship, Ninetys keeps things simple and only brews up black, white and filter coffee with only a few varieties – fruity, nutty or a chocolate blend. Either way, they’re all seriously good. Can’t decide? The café offers tastings notes to go with your coffee eg. pairing almonds with your fruity blend java. Food wise, try the lobster benedicts with salty egg hollandise sauce and their signature donut toast: a Greek yoghurt doughnut topped with ice cream and fresh fruits.
There’s a surprising number of Australian-inspired coffee shops in Hong Kong, but Nutsy Coffee Bar is definitely up near the top. Best known for its single origin coffee in the form of espressos and hand-drip drinks, Nutsy brings Hongkongers some intense and sublime coffee. They sell regular seasonal sweet and savoury items – hot cross buns during Easter, for instance – and are one of the few places that serves vegemite on toast. Show some love by leaving messages and drawings on the giant chalkboard.
This once-hidden Tokyo coffee shop, famous for its espresso and cube-shaped baked custards called ‘kashi’, has closed its original premises in Omotesando, at its charmingly minimalist residential premise, and come to Wan Chai. The regular hot ‘koffee’ is excellent but it’s worth paying extra for the hand drip version. And don’t forget to try the kashi. Small and incredibly moreish, you might want to order a whole box...
Despite relocating from Second Lane to a smaller venue with limited seating, Unar Coffee Company continues to attract local coffee connoisseurs thanks to its refined choice of Italian coffee beans. Aside from the impressive selection of flavoured coffee including banana, crème brûlée and cucumber, Unar also boasts an ‘undrinkable chocolate’. Interested? The outdoor benches are perfect for people watching and lounging in the sun.